Ringworm is commonly seen in pet cats, but despite the name, they’re not worms. Fortunately, this highly contagious infection can be avoided and treated if you simply know what to do.
What is ringworm?
Ringworm is actually a fungal infection that affects many different animal species and is also known as dermatophytosis or tinea corporis. Cats are often infected with this fungus because it is easily transmitted. Ringworm affects the top layer of skin and occurs when the fungus or its spores touch a cat’s skin. It is very similar to other fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot.
Signs of ringworm in cats
Ringworm lesions produce hairless, scaly, red rings on the skin. They also often itch. These round lesions usually appear on the forelegs, ears, or other parts of a cat’s head but can appear anywhere, especially in severe infections.
Ringworm is usually noticed when an owner is petting their cat. A small amount of hair loss is noticed first and then on further examination a red ring in this area of the hairless skin.
We have had a few cases of ringworm in the past few weeks. Ringworm is a highly contagious fungal infection that can be…
Causes of Ringworm
Cats can carry the ringworm’s fungal spores and show no symptoms of the disease, while others actually show the symptoms and become infected by the spores.
The spores can spread to other cats easily or directly. Indirect contact, a cat touches another animal that has ringworm to get the infection. In indirect contact, a cat can get ringers from touching bedding, food and water bowls, toys, and other objects that a carrier or an infected pet has come into contact with.
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Can You Get Ringworm From Your Cat?
Yes, ringworm is a zoonosis, which means it can spread from animals to humans. Typically, ringworm infection occurs in a person after a person pats an infected cat or a carrier cat. However, it can also occur when items that have been used by an infected cat are simply handled. Immunocompromised people such as the elderly and very young are more prone to wounds.
How to diagnose ringworm
To confirm that this round lesion is ringworm and not a different hair type or skin problem, your veterinarian may perform one or more different tests to help make the diagnosis:
- Woods Lamp – Your vet may use a special black light called a Wood’s lamp, which allows the mushroom to glow green. This is a simple and non-invasive test, but unfortunately, it is not very accurate. In addition to the worm, many other things, including dead skin cells, ointments, and other fibers, glow under a black light. Therefore, this test is usually not done as the sole indication of infection.
- Microsporum – Your vet can also look for the fungal spores (Microsporum) under a microscope by attaching the clear tape to the lesion and sticking a patch on the cells attached to the tape. This particular purple spot causes the ringworm’s spores, which look like tiny ellipses with lines in them, to be visible under a microscope, but they can still be difficult to see.
- Culture – One of the most accurate ways to diagnose ringworms is to take samples of your cat’s fur and skin and place them on a special culture medium to see if the fungus is growing. Unfortunately, this is also a very slow method and can take over a week to get results.
- Biopsy – A skin biopsy is the most invasive way to diagnose the worm. In this method, a piece of skin is cut out and sent to the laboratory for microscopic analysis. It may take a few days to see results, but it is very accurate.
- PCR – The newest method for detecting ringworms is a polymer chain reaction test, commonly known as PCR. Like the culture test, the PCR test uses skin and hair, but can detect ringworm in a very non-invasive way in just a few days.
These different tests will ensure that your cat has ringworm and that your veterinarian can treat the fungal infection with an appropriate medication. Your veterinarian may also ask if you have lesions that are similar to your cat’s lesions. This is another indication of this zoonosis.
Does ringworm look like other diseases?
Other things can look similar to ringworm lesions. Fleas and mange (both demodectic and sarcoptic) can cause hair loss and itching, and some cats lick their fur and irritate their skin until it is red due to allergies, stress, and anxiety. You should make sure that you are treating the right problem and not making matters worse by giving the wrong type of medication.
how to treat ringworm in cats
If your veterinarian has diagnosed your cat with ringworm, they will most likely prescribe an anti-fungal medication to treat the infection. Itraconazole is the most common drug used in pets with ringworm, but due to the size of the capsules, it typically has to be mixed into a liquid solution in order to dose it for a cat.
Sometimes topical ointments are also used to treat ringworm in conjunction with oral treatments. By using oral and topical treatment regimens, you kill both spores on the skin and systemically suppress infection in the cat.
Finally, if you have a cat with ringworm, you will need to treat the area to kill any remaining spores. Diluted bleach solutions should be used after general cleaning, e.g., B. Vacuuming and typical surface washing to kill ringworm spores.
How to Prevent Ringworm
Ringworm is highly contagious in cats, but it can also be prevented if the appropriate steps are taken. Washing your hands after handling a cat and before handling your own cat is the easiest way to reduce the chances of you or your cat contracting ringworm. Other than that, do not let your cat play with cats that do not live in your household and maintain a hygienic environment for you and your cat. If you have a worm, do not touch your cat until your doctor considers you are legitimately free from the infection.